5 Fun And Easy Activities to Promote Speech And Language Development During Summer

Three Happy Children Coloring On Construction PaperSchool’s out, which means you have extra time to spend with your child. As you plan activities to fill the day, you might find yourself needing a few “tricks” to tie in learning with fun. Here’s a list of my top five activities to encourage speech and language development while still having a good time.

1. Create a summer scrapbook.

Take digital pictures or save ticket stubs and brochures from special summer outings, and glue them in a construction paper book after special events throughout the summer. Help your child write a sentence about each page. Where did you go? Who was there? What did you see there? Afterwards, encourage your child to share their book with family and friends.

2. Have fun with sidewalk chalk!

Winter is finally behind us and the sidewalks are snow-free, so enjoy being outdoors with sidewalk chalk. Draw pictures of summer words or different shapes. Play a listening game by encouraging your child to step on the pictures as you name them: “Hop to the sunglasses”, “Bear crawl to the sun!” or “Skip to the beach ball!” Read more

Day Camp and Overnight Camp: Survival Guide for Parents and Campers

It’s summertime: warm weather, freedom from homework, and great summer camp experiences. Camp is an amazing opportunity for kids to learn independence and responsibility. When we go to “family camp” in the Wisconsin Dells each year, my husband and I challenge our kids and say that camp is about trying new things, even if they seem scary (my almost six year-old tried a zipline for the first time this year).

The Benefits Of Overnight and Day Camp: camp signs

Children meet new friends at camp and learn self-confidence along the way. At overnight camp, they also learn about responsibility and how to take care of themselves! But, summer camp may not be an easy transition for all kids (and their parents).

Avoid Homesickness by Staying Positive and Following Camp Rules.

Parents play an integral part in their child’s adjustment to camp. If parents are anxious about sending kids to camp, kids will pick up on that and they will then feel anxious.

Some Camp DOs and DON’Ts:

  • DO stay positive about camp. Focus on all the incredible experiences your child will have at camp.
  • DO look at the camp website together to see the smiling faces of past campers. Research all the available activities and help your child learn what his day will look like.
  • DO visit the camp together before the first day.
  • DO participate in pre-camp activities offered by the camp to meet other campers. Having a familiar face can make all the difference.
  • DON’T tell your child that you’ll have a difficult time without him being home. This can make your child feel guilty that he is leaving you and that you can’t survive without him.
  • DO allow him to enjoy this amazing experience.
  • DO follow the visitation rules the camp has created, whether it’s day camp or overnight camp. Kids need time to adjust to camp and they do best when they can adjust with their fellow camp friends.
  • DON’T show up at camp unless the camp allows a visitors’ day. When parents arrive while children are trying to adjust, it will inevitably lead to the child wanting to bolt out of the new environment and retreat back to the comforts of home.
  • DON’T tell your child that if she doesn’t like camp, she can call you and you will pick her up. That speaks to your own anxiety about her being away from you at camp. If kids don’t know that leaving is an option, they will learn to acclimate to their new surroundings and be able to fully enjoy themselves.
  • DO make sure that a letter (or email, if allowed) arrives when your child arrives at overnight camp. This lets your child know that you are thinking about him. But, make sure to stay positive in your letter. Ask questions about the kids in your child’s cabin, favorite activities, and what he is excited to try at camp.
  • DO talk with other parents about their experiences and how they survived (the kids will be fine).

 

The Unexpected Benefits Of Story Time

 It’s Not Just About Reading

Reading is an important and fun activity to experience with your child. There are so many benefits to the time spent reading to your child, listening to them read to you, and talking about the story afterwards. Listed below aMom And Young Daughter Pointing At Picture Bookre some of the things that you can do to make the experience of reading even more beneficial and engaging for you and your child.

To make reading more meaningful and exciting for your child, ask them to tell you their own story or make up a story together. You and your child could also recreate the ending of a familiar story to enjoy a whole new adventure. As you read books together, make sure to be animated and engaged in the story, use your voice Read more

Fun In The Sun And Fine Motor Skill Development

Mother and Young Daughter with Potted PlantsMany summer time activities have a hidden benefit…they help to develop your child’s fine motor skills! Here are few of the fun things that you can do this summer to increase hand and finger strength, fine motor coordination and dexterity.

Make Outdoor Art

  • Play with sidewalk chalk! Sidewalk chalk comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, making it easier to find chalk that fits your child’s hand and keep them engaged. Draw pictures, play tic-tac-toe or hopscotch, write the letters of your name or a message to a friend. The fun you and your child can have with sidewalk chalk is endless.
  • Water play is an essential summer time activity. You can use squirt guns, empty spray bottles or even turkey basters to “write” on the sidewalk or use them Read more

Encouraging Your Child To Talk About Their Day

Why won’t my child share more Information? mom and daughter talking

One of the most common things I hear from parents is the desire to hear about their child’s day. Whether at camp, a play-date, or a day at school, we’re anxious to hear all about it!

“So how was school today?” It seems simple enough. For children with language difficulties, however, sharing events from the day can be quite a challenge for several reasons.

Telling others about our day requires integrating several complex skills, such as remembering the details from the day, sequencing the events in the correct order, and forming sentences to describe each event in the past tense. For children with speech and language difficulties, these are no small tasks. When I ask kids what they did at school today, I am often met with responses such as “good”, or “I don’t remember” or, most commonly, “nothing”.

Tips to help your child talk about their day:

Avoid asking challenging questions during transitions. For children with speech and language difficulties (or anyone for that matter), it’s far more difficult to talk during transitions or while multitasking (e.g. walking in the Read more

Dealing with Avoidance Behaviors in Preschoolers

anxious boyThe preschool years are an amazing time in children’s lives. They have already learned many skills in their first few years and feel like they are on top of the world. They are at the age of “I can do it myself.”

At this age, children are egocentric and believe that everything in the world revolves around them. For instance, if you ask a preschooler what to get Daddy for Father’s Day, she may answer with a gift that she would like: “Legos! A Doll! Dora The Explorer!” It’s not her intention to be hurtful, of course – it’s just where she is functioning developmentally.

The Preschooler Wants The Best Of Both Worlds

In their quest for independence, preschoolers will be torn between wanting to be a baby and wanting to be a big kid. Babies get lots of attention because they need Mom or Dad’s help with everything. Preschoolers like that attention and thus may regress to “I need help” when they previously did a task independently. They want to do “big kid” things, but because their imaginations are thriving, they can also create scenarios in their minds that make ordinary events seem more scary to them. Therefore, they may try to avoid certain activities either because they feel they will miss out on time with Mom or Dad at home (attention) or because they fear that something bad could happen to them when they try a new adventure.

This could lead preschoolers to refuse to go on play dates independently, say they are sick and can’t go to school or camp, or simply refuse to get ready for any of these exciting “big kid” opportunities. Parents can confront these avoidance behaviors with some careful phrasing, active listening, and allowing their preschool-age children to exert their independence by making good choices for themselves whenever a choice is possible.

How to Confront Avoidance Behaviors:

As parents, we always want to know why a behavior is occurring, but…

1) Resist the temptation to ask preschoolers “why” they are exhibiting the particular avoidance behavior (e.g. don’t ask, “Why don’t you want to go to school?”). Young children will inevitably answer that question with “I don’t know”, which will inevitably frustrate parents.

2) Try talking with preschoolers about what they think about when they imagine going to school, camp, play dates, etc. You may be surprised to learn that your child is thinking about what you’ll be doing (in other words, what he or she will be missing out on) while the child is on this new adventure. It may not be that she doesn’t want to go, but rather that she can’t relax enough to allow herself to have a good time. Read more

Introducing Chores To Your Child

family clean upMany parents struggle with deciding when their children are old enough to help with chores. And when that time comes, they may have difficulties getting their children to lend a hand around the house. Instead of making chores seem like a punishing task, try to be creative and have fun. By getting your children involved with housework, you can teach them about responsibility, enhance their self-esteem and give them the sense of accomplishment that accompanies a job well done.

Strategies to get your child helping out around the house:

Simplicity is key – You want to make sure that the task is manageable.  In the beginning, don’t assign chores with multiple steps. Keep in mind that your child will not be able to complete chores perfectly, and that it will probably take several attempts until he/she can do them according to your standards. Be sure to praise your child’s  attempts, and whatever you do, do not fix his/her work. This will only discourage the child and make future attempts less likely.

Be consistent – When introducing new chores, make sure to pick just a few manageable tasks. Starting with one or two chores is a wise idea. After the child is able to accurately complete these chores, introduce additional tasks. You do not want the child to feel overwhelmed with several tasks, because he/she will begin to ignore or ditch new chores. Additionally, be sure to let him/her know when the chore needs to completed. If the chore is not completed in the specified time frame, there should be reasonable consequences in place that your child is aware of. Read more

Gross Motor Skills on the Playground

Through play, children explore and learn about the world. While doing so, they also learn the gross motor skills that they need in order to successfully navigate their surroundings. Children also learn about sensory information, which allows them to react appropriately to the environment. Gross Motor Skills Blog

Children take in sensory information by touching different textures, experiencing different smells, and hearing different noises in their environments. A great place for children to practice and develop gross motor skills without even knowing it is on the playground!

Great sensory and motor activities for your children on the playground include:

Slides

Slides help in the development of the vestibular system, as the body is in motion and the head can be placed in different positions. It is also a great motor activity, as it requires the child to climb the stairs of the slide, balance on one foot and shift his weight during stair climbing.

Climbing Wall

Climbing a rock wall is great practice for coordination of the upper and lower extremities, as the child has to figure out where to place his hands and feet, and in what sequence. The wall also helps the child develop his upper body and finger strength. Some playgrounds have moveable structures to climb (for example, made out of rope or chain link), which require even greater coordination skills and balance, as the body is required to shift its weight accordingly as the structure moves. Both of these activities also provide proprioceptive input to the joints and muscles.

Tubes

Children can crawl through tubes on all fours, in a bear crawl or in the crab walk position. This helps a child develop core strength and body coordination skills.

Swings

Swings are a great source of vestibular input, as the body is in motion while the feet are off of the ground. Pumping your feet also helps to develop sequencing and motor coordination skills.

Monkey Bars

Monkey bars help to develop upper extremity and hand strength, as well as coordination. If the child hangs upside down on the monkey bars, it also provides great vestibular input!

See-Saw

The see-saw requires coordination, sequencing and cooperation of two children at the same time in order to make the see-saw move. Balance and core and upper body strength are required to hold oneself up on the see saw.

Spring Rider

A spring rider is a seat on a spring that rocks back and forth. It provides great proprioceptive input into the body’s joints, as well as vestibular input while the body is in motion and the head is placed into different positions. A child also needs to coordinate his body movements in order to make the spring rider move, and core and upper extremity strength is required to hold on to the rider.

The playground is the perfect place for children to develop their gross motor skills – skills they will need for everyday activities. These skills can help prepare them for school, as they will need the core strength to develop proper posture for table top activities, and coordination skills for writing and cutting. Gross motor skills will also prepare children for sports and cooperative play with their peers. Movement activities can help to regulate the nervous system, so that a child can be better able to pay attention during class or when doing his homework. Most importantly, movement activities encourage a healthy lifestyle and help children build confidence, as they are able to participate in a variety of activities with peers and become more self-sufficient in their daily tasks.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonDeerfieldLincolnwoodGlenviewLake BluffDes PlainesHinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!

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How To Motivate Children With Autism Using Reinforcers

Reinforcer SetA common difference between children with autism and typically-developing children is their motivation for social feedback and other natural consequences that occur for learning to take place. Typically, developing children have an easier time learning because they are motivated by social feedback from their parents and teachers. But with a child with autism, it is not always as simple as saying “great job!” to encourage learning. Without motivation, it can be very difficult to gain the attention of an autistic child, and even more difficult for learning to take place.

So, how do you motivate a child diagnosed with autism?

Reinforcers Can Help Motivate Children!

Reinforcers motivate children to learn new skills. Often times, children with autism are not readily motivated by social feedback or other natural consequences received from parents, teachers or peers. Insensitivity to social consequences and signals is a core aspect of the disorder.

How To Find A Powerful Reinforcer: Read more

Quick Tips For A Smoother Transition Into A Summer Schedule

Fun Family SummerMany children perform best when they follow a schedule and have a consistent routine. School is coming to an end and summer is approaching, which also translates to a less structured schedule and, potentially, a less productive day. Here are a few suggestions to make the most out of your summer routine:

Visual Schedules:

• At school, many children follow a picture schedule that lets them know what activities they will be participating in that day. Summer is a great time to let kids be kids and allow them to learn through play and gain independence while choosing what toys and activities they want to do on a daily basis. If your child craves predictability and struggles with transitions, try making a summer picture book. Take pictures of your child’s toys, games, books, and places they enjoy playing (backyard, park, pool, etc.) and allow them to create their own plan for the day.

Play Dates:

• Play dates with peers are a great summertime activity. Be sure to swap information with the parents of your child’s friends at school before the end of the year. Children learn a lot through playing together, including skills such as negotiating, compromise, taking turns, communication and imaginative play. Read more